The Jakarta Post
A still from popular Thai drama 'Diary of Tootsies'. The series revolves around a group of friends, (from left to right) Natty (Pattarasaya Kreursuwansiri), Golf (Thongchai Thongkanthom), Gus (Paopetch Charoensook) and Kim (Ratthanant Janyajirawong). (GDH on YouTube/File)
For decades, Japan and South Korea have made long-lasting marks on popular culture with their dramas that have reached international audiences. While Japanese dramas began to gain recognition in Indonesia in the 1990s when several were aired on national television, the K-dramas of South Korea began to draw a large number of viewers in the 2000s. Their prominence, along with the rising popularity of K-pop music, cemented the Korean wave in the country.
Meanwhile, Thailand has also produced some quality series, though ones that are perhaps not as popular as those from the two aforementioned countries.
In Thai dramas, the Boys Love (often shortened to BL or “Y” in Thai) genre is among the most popular, following the success of the series 2gether in March when many people were forced to stay at home due to the pandemic, according to vice.com.
Timeout.com reported that one of the streaming platforms for BL series, LINE TV, recorded its biggest increase in viewership in the first quarter of 2020 amid the lockdown, from a 5 percent audience share in 2019 to a peak of 34 percent.
At a glance, the genre brings greater representation to the screen. But it also presents profound topics and can give viewers new perspectives about love and consent, though some may think that it shows unrealistic portrayals of the LGBTQ community.
If you’re new to this universe and ready to explore further, these are some Thai dramas that are worth your attention:
Wake Up Ladies
Wake Up Ladies (Wake Up Chanee or Wake Up ชะนี) is a 2018 romantic comedy series about five people who are searching for love. The gang consists of Nat (Niti Chaichitatorn), Jane (Akhamsiri Suwanasuk), Aoey (Maneerat Kam-Uan), Chloe (Apissada Kreurkongka) and Tata (Tipnaree Weerawatnodom).
'Wake Up Ladies' takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster ride as each character has a different definition of 'love'. (GMMTV on YouTube/File)
The series takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster ride as each character has a different definition of love. Chloe, for instance, believes that love is an adventure, while Aoey somehow sticks to doing ridiculous things to find her soulmate. But in the end, when each is tangled in their own problems, the group always has each other’s back.
Nat, the only gay character in the gang, often becomes the center of the series. He is the one who's always ready with advice and hugs, reminding the rest of the group of their worth.
The sequel, Wake Up Ladies 2: Very Complicated, is set to come out this year.
Diary of Tootsies
Tootsie is Thai slang for “effeminate gay men”, according to bangkokpost.com.
The 2016 series revolves around three gay men and one lesbian, namely Gus (Paopetch Charoensook) the narrator, Golf (Thongchai Thongkanthom), who doesn’t let her weight stop her from dancing, Kim (Ratthanant Janyajirawong), the steward who frequently competes with Golf in attracting other men, and Natty (Pattarasaya Kreursuwansiri), who is a frequent source of either trouble or joy in her friends’ lives.
Diary of Tootsies will make you laugh from start to finish as the characters often find rather unorthodox and hilarious ways to solve their problems.
Underneath the chuckles, the series also challenges stigmas against LGBTQ people, including examining the question of whether someone is “gay enough” or how they should “appear” in public.
Adapted from a popular Facebook page, a sequel to Diary of Tootsies was released in 2017, while the feature film Tootsies and the Fake (known as Cuties and the Fake in Indonesia) hit the screens in 2019.
Dark Blue Kiss
Dark Blue Kiss (2019) is a continuation of the rom-com dramas Kiss: The Series and Kiss Me Again, though it can be watched as a standalone series. It features beautiful cinematography that, similar to the title, is dominated by blue elements.
Kao (left, played by Thitipoom Techaapaikhun) and Pete (played by Tawan Vihokratana) in 'Dark Blue Kiss'. Alongside acceptance, the series also highlights issues of uncertainty and honesty in a relationship. (GMMTV on YouTube/File)
Adapted from a novel by Hideko_Sunshine, the series follows the relationship of gay couple Pete (Tawan Vihokratana) and Kao (Thitipoom Techaapaikhun). Unlike Pete, who is open to his father about his sexual orientation, Kao is still reluctant to be honest with his mother. They get more distant following the presence of Non (Chayapol Jutamat), a student who falls in love with Kao and tries to separate the pair.
The series also includes another gay couple; Sun (Supakorn Sriphotong) and Mork (Gawin Caskey), who are too good to miss.
Along with acceptance, Dark Blue Kiss highlights issues of uncertainty and honesty in a relationship. It is often praised for showing believable perspectives on the things couple face and the importance of a strong support system.
Until We Meet Again
For those who prefer a tear-jerker drama that can make you rethink your notions about love, you should consider watching Until We Meet Again.
In (Katsamonnat Namwirote) and Korn (Noppakao Dechaphatthankun) are a gay couple whose relationship is opposed by their parents. After deciding to end their lives, In and Korn reincarnate as Pharm (Natouch Siripongthon) and Dean (Thitiwat Riprasert), respectively. Despite living in a new era where LGBTQ people are generally more accepted, Pharm and Dean are still haunted by their past.
Based on a novel by LazySheep, Until We Meet Again compares and contrasts Thai society’s acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the past and the present. Though the pace may be slow for some, the series shows that sometimes forgiveness is needed to find joy in life.
2gether: The Series
2gether: The Series could be said to be the most phenomenal Thai drama of early 2020. Premiering in February, the series frequently trended on Twitter in several Asian countries, including Thailand and Indonesia. It is adapted from a Thai novel by JittiRain.
Premiering in February, '2gether' is considered one of the most phenomenal Thai dramas of early 2020. (GMMTV on YouTube/File)
Tine (Metawin Opasiamkajorn) will do anything to escape from a fanatic fan, including convincing the university’s hottest student, Sarawat (Vachirawit Chivaare), to be his fake boyfriend. However, their fake relationship gradually becomes more serious as Sarawat falls for Tine.
Watching 2gether may remind you of your first crush. It’s amusing to see how Sarawat tries hard to woo Tine in rather unusual ways, though always ending in vain.
A number of fans have pointed out that some scenes in the drama show a lack of consent, such as when Sarawat takes a photo of Tine while he’s intoxicated and uploads it to Instagram.
The series’ sequel, (Still) 2gether, is scheduled to air in August. (wng)